Ruby’s Pantry provides much needed service to Marshfield area
Hundreds come each month to access affordable food
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — A semitrailer filled with 19,000 pounds of food arrived at East Gate Alliance Church in Marshfield on Sept. 19, as one does the third Saturday of every month, to provide for families and individuals in need. East Gate Alliance is the site of a Ruby’s Pantry event, which is a nonprofit organization that distributes food throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota.
East Gate Alliance Pastor Mark Lafferty estimates the number of people served at each Ruby’s Pantry event in Marshfield to be 225-300 people. Lafferty added that not just Marshfield residents but people from many surrounding communities come to gain access to the pantry.
Those that come make a $20 donation per family or individual, which goes toward the operational costs of the program, and gain access to a wide range of food items like bread, bananas, granola bars, yogurt, potatoes, chips, pickles, frozen pizza, and much more. Part of the money also goes to the church’s benevolent fund, which helps people who may struggle to afford things like house payments, bills, or gas.
“It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. You see a lot of the people that need it,” said Fred Bueltemann, who is a driver for Ruby’s Pantry and delivered the semitrailer packed with food to East Gate Alliance this past Saturday.
Volunteers for the event load cars with groceries, guide guests through the pantry, and hand out food. Church members are not the only volunteers. Many are simply residents of the community looking to support a good cause. Howard Klamrowski is not a member of East Gate Alliance but said he comes because he wants to help people.
“I love donating my time,” Klamrowski said.
The pantry at East Gate Alliance is really just a large room, and though it opens at 9 a.m. for people to come and pick out food, there is generally a line stretching outside the building as many wait to register. The church’s nave is then turned into a waiting room packed with people. Generally a speaker or some kind of entertainment is provided while people wait to pick out groceries, said church member and former Washington Elementary School Principal Jim Cain.
“People have no clue, the need here in Marshfield. As a principal I saw it more because I’d go out, I’d make home visits, and I would go to homes that you wouldn’t believe,” Cain said.
April Harris, who was volunteering as a guide for guests on Sept. 19, said that often a job loss or simply a person going through a hard time can land them in need of help.
“I work up at the hospital, and I talk to a lot of the patients that I know that are going through a hard time, and I tell them, ‘Come here and $20, two boxes of food, that’s a pretty good deal.”
Ruby’s Pantry is open to all. Guests are asked to bring two large containers in which to pack food. Registration for the event begins at 8 a.m. on the third Saturday of every month. East Gate Alliance Church is located at 2203 E. Becker Road in Marshfield.